Someday, John Boehner’s emotional approach to his job and obvious love of the institution may be recalled in the same way as Speaker Sam Rayburn preventing his fellow Democrats from blocking Republican President Dwight Eisenhower’s foreign policy initiatives. Or Speaker Tip O’Neill’s after-hours friendship with Ronald Reagan.
After Boehner was forced into premature retirement by the hotheads in his caucus, it is clear that his approach to the speakership belongs in the history books alongside Rayburn’s belief that foreign adversaries needed to see a bipartisan foreign policy and O’Neill’s belief that Democrats can be friends with Republicans. In today’s overheated, hyperpartisan Washington, there seems little room for institutionalists who cherish the House and see a picture bigger than the battle of the day.
Nothing better captured that atmosphere than the graceless and jarring statement issued Friday by Heritage Action for America. Michael A. Needham, the group's chief executive officer, could not bring himself to offer even a nod to Boehner’s lifetime of service to conservatism and the Republican Party. Instead, his message was basically “good riddance.” “Too often,” he said, “Speaker Boehner has stood in the way” of giving Americans a decent Congress.